Even though it might be convenient and easy to entertain using Styrofoam plates, plastic cutlery, and plastic cups…eating outdoors shouldn’t mean leaving a trail of litter in the form of disposable plates and cutlery.

Each year in the U.S. alone, an estimated 40 billion plastic utensils are used.

Each day 500 million disposable plastic straws are tossed away, in the United States alone.

Instead of contributing to these statistics, we should all consider the three r’s of helping to protect the environment…Reduce…Re-use…Recycle.

1.  Reduce…Buy only what you need.

The most eco-friendly option is always to use whatever cups and plates you already have at home. If you have a large crowd to feed, consider renting plates from a local church or community center.

2.  Re-use…If you must buy something, plan on using it and re-using it.

It does take more effort to use reusable items, but choosing dishes and glasses that can be washed and used over and over again–instead of paper and plastic–saves not only on what goes thrown into landfills but also on having to buy those items again and again.

Reusable items can also add a touch of class and decoration to a party. Eating with sturdy cutlery is much less frustrating than cutting food on a Styrofoam plate with a flimsy plastic knife.

Buy a second set of cheap, lightweight plates and cutlery at a local thrift store.

Serving iced juice or water in a beverage dispenser is not only practical and elegant, but eliminates the need for a cooler full of dripping wet plastic water bottles or soda cans.

Serve drinks in small mason jars. Write guests’ names on the side in permanent marker, or tie a ribbon around to differentiate. 

3.  Recycle...If you must use disposables, look for paper plates made from 100% recycled paper. This should be considered only as a final option.

There are several companies who make good quality re-useable, eco-friendly paper and plastic picnic-ware..as well as companies that make environmentally-friendly products from cork, bamboo, coconut, palm,  and stainless steel.

Here are a few great examples…

      
    1.  Bambu Home Veneerware® 

    • Available…in a package of 8 plates, or in a case of 100 plates. 
    • Cost…$70 per case
    • Made from...100% certified organic bamboo
    • Sizes…7″, 9″, or 11″ round…square sizes too

     

      
    2.  Eco-Friendly Cookware Bamboo Square Plates – Chartreuse 

    • Available…set of 4
    • Cost…$29.95 
    • Made from…bamboo fiber and corn powder
    • Size…8″

      
    3.  Preserve Products Large On The Go Plates

    • Available…sets of 8 
    • Cost…$7.25
    • Made from…100% recycled lightweight but sturdy #5 dishwasher-safe plastic that can withstand hundreds and hundreds of uses without cracking, warping, or breaking
    • Size…10.5” large plate 

      
    4.  Stalk Marketplates

    • Available…420 plates per case
    • Cost…$55.70
    • Made from...sugarcane bagasse, a material which breaks down into natural soil in approximately 50-100 days in properly maintained compost facilities
    • Size…7″ classic round plate

      
    5.  To-Go Ware

    •  Available…sets of five
    • Cost…$9.99
    • Made from…dishwasher-safe bamboo 

      
    6.  VerTerra

    • Available…packs of 25
    • Cost…$22.00
    • Made from…fallen palm leaves
    • Size…extra-large 10” recyclable plates 
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